Tuesday, December 6, 2005


First real snowfall of the winter last night--so pretty when it falls sideways in front of the streetlamps. Inches on my car this morning, but didn't take long to dig through. Almost fell on my ass in the work parking lot because they hadn't yet put down salt.

I was thumbing through Martha Stewart's Living yesterday in the doctor's waiting room. Even the ads in that magazine make me feel like a failure, not to mention the suggestions for holiday cheer. Hey, did you know you could melt your own wax candles and even shape them into reindeers with tiny silver beads strewn on them and little reins made out of leather? You can also bake a fourteen layer cake filled with chocolate mousse, fresh cranberries, and mint and topped with holly constructed out of tiny slivers of petrified grass. Or make your own Christmas cards--you only need cardstock, a laser printer, a family, a dog, calligraphy materials, and a studio in which to take the photos. Oh, yeah, and a digital camera. The only suggestion she had that I could maybe do is to wrap some presents in old-fashioned napkins, but you're supposed to pin them in place and that seems like a disaster waiting to happen plus where do I find the napkins circa 1950? I could also probably manage to make name plate placards out of toothpicks stuck in fresh limes, but I can't imagine an occassion where I would need to do so. The other suggestion I could reasonably duplicate is to transform holiday cookie cutters into ornaments by inserting festive paper and pictures inside them and adding a red or green ribbon to hang it. But we don't have a tree. I supposed I could hang them from doorknobs but that seems sad. I resent anyone who has the time on his/her hands to make any of the recipes. And am envious of it too, because I can't see myself having the patience or focus to do any of these things.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Dive Bar Tour Extravaganza

So, my friend Tara threw a birthday bash for her boyfriend Jimmy on Saturday that involved inviting about 12 of his guy friends from all over the country to surprise him by ambushing him as the two of them walked up 5th Street. His glasses flew off and he was toppled to the road, not unlike a perpetrator in Cops. We then walked him to Ray's Happy Birthday Bar below Washington where two other of his guy friends were waiting to surprise him further.

Here's Ray's: They have a jukebox next to one of their sticky bar tables and a statue of James Brown above the mirrored bar. The women's room is so small that your knees almost touch the door when you're sitting on the toilet. It's dark inside and smells like cigarette smoke and spilled beer. They had a Christmas tree in one corner decorated with white lights and beer can ornaments. I think we spoiled a typical Saturday at the bar for many of the older men in flannel shirts who frequent the joint. Everyone ordered PBR's.

Next stop, Dive (formerly Low): The bartender at this place was super super low key; didn't even get mad when one of the more drunk guys walked behind the bar or that we brought deli sandwiches, cole slaw, and potato salad into the bar for people to eat. He picked up a sandwich and did two shots with the guys. I told him he looked vaguely like Mark Ruffalo but he didn't know who that is. Dive bar is basically one long bar with stools and a large TV that plays movies (Wedding Singer was on while we were there). The guy who runs it is a very dorky guy with a pointed beard and moussed boy band hair and two hoop earrings. He wasn't there for the happy hour, but he usualy runs around slapping high fives with people he recognizes and asking everybody if they're doing okay. I prefer him though to the blase, disenchanted attitude of people at Royal Tavern next door.

Friendly's Lounge: On the sidewalk near Friendly's, we ran into three women who were just leaving there to go to meet friends at Dive. Jimmy said, Come on, women! Come back with us! They followed us to Friendly's and we were unable to shake them for the rest of the night (in fact, two of the guys were unable to shake them until the next morning when both were sheepinshly dropped off at Tara's after having taken the Drive of Shame). Friendly's seems to be mob owned and run. Not much in the way of decorations, but the bartender, an older guy with slicked-back hair, lined the bar instantly with green bottles of Yuengling Lager. Jimmy's a semi-regular there and so the bartender handed off two guitars, one to him and one to his friend Mike and they crooned and strummed for awhile. I had my first inkling that maybe I could possibly go home soon. Shawn had to back out after Dive, having consumed about a case of PBR's in an hour without the benefit of the corned beef sandwich that arrived just a few moments too late.

And on to Bob and Barbara's: A much roomier bar where they are usually three black musicians on drums, sax and guitar set up right next to the bathroom. Good mix of people here including average Joe's, hipsters, and frat boys. Can't remember too much what I did here...Oh, yes, one of the other women there who had a red ribbon in her hair told me about her brother who died. She started crying a little and excused herself. I struck up a conversation with two guys next to me who were med students from Penn. We had a fairly earnest conversation about organ donation and then they left to go somewhere cooler. Watched as one of the women we picked up on the street inched closer and closer to one of the single guys in our group--she was probably nice enough but she had that wet, curly haired look from the early 90s and a large, horse-like face. Who knows; maybe she was a fabulous conversationalist and had sharp insight into current politics and the human existence. I got a little worried when I noticed I was slightly careening around like someone stuck in a pinball machine--bumping into doors and people and generally tipped off balance in what I hoped was a not noticeable way.

And lastly for me: Dirty Frank's: Not a far distance from Bob & Barbara's. Dirty Frank's has booths and a square bar in the center and places to sit along the wall (though it might have just been the radiator we were perched on). I managed to have part of a PBR, use the bathroom, and say good night to Tara and Jimmy and a couple of the other people before trying to walk out with the PBR in my coat pocket which the bouncer made me leave. Hi, I'm 21 years old. I wove my way home with a double consciousness. I was aware that I was walking erratically and doing things like leaning over to look intently at the numbers of my cell phone and thinking, God, I'm appearing to be so drunk, but I couldn't stop doing it either. Made it home after eleven. I thought Shawn had left again to come out to meet us, but he was still in bed which was sort of a relief.

The rest of the crowd finished the night out at Tattoed Mom's, closing the place without any serious incidents unless you count a few instances of suspected infidelity. Jimmy did momentarily expose his ass at Dirty Frank's (I think), but that's to be expected. I lasted from about 2:30 to 11 which I think is pretty good. Didn't do any shots, had about an hour off in the middle, and ate a little roast beef. Didn't get sick, make out with any strange men, sob uncontrollably, pee my pants, or otherwise create a scene, though I am embarrassed about the beer in the jacket pocket.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

I Snub You

There's a cute blond trainer boy at the gym whose name is Luke (Sweat has a wall of trainer names and black and white photographs on the brick staircase as you ascend to find your machine). He's about 23 years old and teaches ab classes and will be your personal muscle building slave for the right price. I imagine that most girls (and some guys) at the gym think he's adorable. I imagine too that he doesn't notice me much because there are so many pretty young girls in cotton leggings, tight sports bras, and swinging ponytails who bounce around the place. So, to counteract his not noticing me, I pretend not to notice him. If he's at the front counter when I swipe in, I smile at the girl and ignore him and his fingerless weight-lifting gloves. If he comes into our class to retrieve a rubber ball to lay on, I don't turn my head. If he strolls in between the ellipses machines, I focus my attention on Dr. Phil. See, I'm trying to teach him a lesson that not EVERY girl thinks he's a hottie (even though I do think he's cute). And the sad, sad thing is I'm sure he has no idea that I'm doing that because I don't register on his scanner. (I wonder if people I don't notice are secretly snubbing me? Stop it!)

I like the woman who teaches our bouncy class. She's energetic and has a great atheletic body and doesn't tolerate chatty girls. She said to two girls yesterday, I'm going to separate you two if you don't stop talking. Sometimes if she's making us do three sprints in a row, I hate her for an instant, but then I like her again. There's a woman who comes into class every week about 15 minutes after we start. She's short and wears a gray sports bra and black or gray Spandex tights. She has a tiny little upper body with hard, hard abs and a gigantic ass. I mean, BIG. I can't stop staring at it. It just doesn't match the rest of her. She doesn't seem to mind. She always gets up in the front of the class closest to the mirror and stares hard at herself as she jumps on the trampoline. I picture her at a dance club in a little tank top shaking her booty like nobody's business.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Over Your Dead Body

Shawn and I went to Body Worlds last night. The body shown here was at one time a real human person who decided to give his/her flesh and bones to Dr. Gunther van Hagens. Dr. Hagens developed and perfected the art of plastination which, according to the Web site "makes it possible to preserve individual tissues and organs that have been removed from the body of the deceased as well as the entire body itself." The process stops the body from decomposing and you can stand inches away from it looking at the red lines of the musculature or gaze at an entire family of bodies shaped only out of bundles of tiny red capillaries.

This might be a friend of yours, who knows. They had glass cases and cases of preserved organs and bones too, both healthy and unhealthy--the message was, Don't smoke (blackened lungs) and don't get too fat (they had a sliced up body of a 540 pound person to illustrate the strain subcutaneous fat puts on the internal organs). The most amazing thing was how close you could get to the body--right next to it--they weren't protected by cases for the most part. I blew on one and the exposed nerve muscles shifted. We also saw quite a few pensises and balls, just sort of hanging down, you know, like they do. My favorite but one of the harder ones to look at was a man standing up and sliced into 5 separate pieces. So, the first thing you see is the slice of the entire front of his naked white body and then the last thing you see is the slice of the back of his naked body and in between are three pieces cut to show internal organs. He has all his skin and hair though (including white pubic hair and a short, white military style hair cut on his head) including portions of the tattoos on both his forearms and shoulders. Very strange to look at this man and then see the faint outline of a blue winking mermaid on his arm. Even more ghoulish was the reclining pregnant woman with the 8 month old fetus curled up in her womb which had been peeled away so you could see the child. The placard outside of the exhibit explained that in life, the pregnant woman had been diagnosed with a terminal disease and knew she might not survive the pregnancy and so agreed to be part of the exhibit. Obviously, she did not make it and neither did the baby and now they are forever destined to be gawked at by 6th grade boys on field trips who will be forever scarred by the sight of her cut out and protruding nipples. Another man was completely skinned and holding the skin of his body (with hair on it) in one of his hands as if it were an overcoat he just shook off. I did like the man on the horse though. horses are so overwhelming huge and beautiful, even when you can seek their skulls.

I'm not saying you shouldn't go or that the exhibit is exploitive but it seemed like I should've FELT something more about and I didn't; other than morbid fascination and a vague unease. And of course, a deep curiosity about what they were like in life.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I was wrong. The root canal was worse.

I love lying backward in a chair with a dental dam and six sharp instruments stuck in my mouth along with a suction cup that's vacuuming off my cheek and two guys hovering above me holding bright lights. Let's do that for about an hour. The dentist had me wear those huge grandma cataract sunglasses but the gunk still splattered in my eyes. I kept thinking, What if something goes horribly awry and I die like this? I don't know what the cause could be--an allergic reaction to a chemical or maybe suffocation from the rubber sheet they stretched over my face (for real. One thing that did happen was the dentist almost cut my lip off with the scissors as he was trimmming the sheet so I could breath out of my nose). Anyway, I decided I would be a sad case if I died because I was trying to be so cheerful ahead of time, joking about how I had pureed turkey for Thanksgiving just to be sure I didn't damage my tooth any further, ha haha hahahahha. He showed me a video of what would be happening in my mouth, but it in no way prepared me for the actual removal of the nerves in my tooth. At one point, he fished something out and said, Do you have a bad stomach? I said, Errr. He showed me the nerve he had pulled out of my head--it looked like a miniature version of the piece of meat you find in the smaller part of the crab claw. He said, Isn't that something? I wanted to say, Let's make it into a necklace, but couldn't speak still because of the instruments and the blood and all. We're not done either. I have to go back about 2 more times so he can replace the screws with silly putty and then add a crown.

At least he gave me vicodin. I told my mom that and she said, Oh, no, don't take any. Think of Rush Limbaugh. As if. That's the only reason I agreed to have one in the first place. The dental assistant told me that one of their other patients had asked for Oxycotin after a routine filling. I said, Oh, do you think I could get some of that? He gave me a sad look.

Monday, November 28, 2005

My life could be worse

We heard a case today that shook me up. I can't give details because of privacy issues, but it involved the loss of a child in an accident that one of the parent's feels responsible for causing. I don't know how a person survives grief that complicated; the death of a child on top of believing it was your fault. How many times would you replay that moment over and over again in your head, rewriting it so that you don't make the same mistake? I do that now with stupid stuff I should or shouldn't have said or done but the consequences are minor. These are not easy meetings to attend every week--there's always a detail or two that haunts; a brother wanting to lay in the hospital bed next to his dead sibling, a father brushing his daughter's hair before she goes to the OR, someone who walked in the Emergency Room talking to the attendants but who won't walk out again.

So, yeah, I guess my root canal today at 5 isn't that big of a deal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Office would be so much more funny if it weren't based on my real life

"That would be great..." I could cut and paste about 20+ e-mails I've received with that phrase un-ironically used. I could list about 500 things from my job that would make you wonder if I was being satirical. I won't though. I can't. If you saw last night's episode of The Office you'll remember that the boss gets access to his employees e-mails. Guess what? I've experienced that actuality in my non-sitcom life. So, I'm a little skeptical about this whole "freedom of speech" thing. Not many people here today as it's Thanksgiving tomorrow. I wonder if, as will probably happen at Shawn's work, we'll all be told to go home a little early, enjoy ourselves, hey, maybe we should cut out early for a drink? Hmmm...I wonder...

In other news, we're going to Bushkill, PA for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Bushkill is a lovely name for a town. It's about 2 or more hours away and so we'll leave here about noon, eat, then turn around and drive back to Philadelphia. Last year at this time, we took ourselves to Block Island and rode some horses. Not this year. Those cute little dineros we spent in Mexico actually turned out to cost real money.

Here is what I'm thankful for this year (not necessarily in order of importance): my health even my teeth which are only partially falling out, my home with the warm heaters that hum in the night, my boyfriend who not only listens but actually applies what he hears, my friends who let me be flakey, my cats with their purring and shedding and growing old gracefully, the existence of dogs and the possibility that I may get one some day, Hope on 7th which consistently provides me with great thrift store bargains, coffee, and much, much more.

Here is what I'm not thankful for this year: the government.

Last year's dinner at Shawn's sister's house:

Monday, November 21, 2005

I Take No Responsibility for Killing You

That statement is for those of you who insist on riding their non-reflective bikes at night while wearing black hoodies and black pants. I'm very proud of you for conserving gasoline and remaining fit, but I CAN'T SEE YOU. Now that it's dark at like 3:30 each day, by the time I'm driving home from work, it's pitch black. There's been more than one time that I've jumped in surprise at bicyclers swerving out of nowhere and speeding off in the dark, visible only if you catch the whites of their eyes. I don't want to commit accidental vehicular manslaughter because some hipster insists on riding his midnight blue Schwinn home from an early happy hour at Sugar Mom's. While I'm on the subject, it will not be my fault if I hit you in my car because you're riding down the street against traffic. And if you insist on talking on your cell phone while doing this, you most certainly should be at least grazed by my bumper.

Other possible circumstances for which I will shoulder no responsibility in the event of your death:

1. If you amble across the street without looking up. You might be from California where cars screech to a halt at the suggestion of a bi-ped, but you are not in CA now and you should at least pause before walking out into the road.

I thought I would be able to come up with more, but I can't think of any others right at this very moment. Driving in Phildelphia in general remains a challenge every morning up 3rd street to work and every evening down 4th. Third street in the morning is an obstacle course of pot holes, illegally parked PPA ticket-writers, lane straddling garbage trucks and buses, unsteady bicyclists, and people for whom a stop sign means "gun it and run it." Fourth street later in the day is filled with out-of-towners inching along in search of street parking, aggressive SUV's trying to make the five second green lights from block to block, random, unending construction, and parking that alternates between the left and the right side of the street. Forget going down 6th because then you have to contend with people trying to get on and off 76 as well as the duck boats at Market St. and accompanying duck whistles.

P.S. It's Thanksgiving this week. I can't believe it. Radio stations are now playing Christmas music nonstop.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Root for Me

Yay! I went to the dentist yesterday and was told by Dr. Henry of the visible nostril hair that I need a root canal on the tooth whose filling I lost in Mexico. Dr. Henry was not pleased with the state of my gums either and gave me a serious dressing down for not seeing the dentist more regularly. I said, "But I didn't have insurance. I had to pay my rent first." He said, "You could've worked out a payment plan." I think he was forgetting that I hate dentists and would rather have my teeth rot out then go to one and pay for it out of pocket with money that could be better spent on student loans and red wine. I did like Dr. Henry on the whole. He gave me extra Novacaine on my request. It looks like my mouth will require about $10,000 worth of work before I'm able to smile freely again. Only you can stop gingivitis.

So, I liked the doctor okay, but I hate everything about being at the dentist. It's so primitive. I feel like any second he's going to secure a string to my molar with the other end tied to a door knob and then slam the door to extract the tooth. I hate how they jam what feels like large squares of cardboard into your mouth and then tell you to bite down and hold it for x-rays. He took about 20 pictures of my teeth from every possible angle. I still have cuts on the roof and bottom of my mouth. He informed me I have a low palate which makes it hard to get the pieces of cardboard in there. After all of this, he announced that the x-rays of my damaged tooth didn't come out clear enough and he'd have to scrape at the tooth to see if it was full of decay. He mentioned something about a nerve possibly being exposed. I asked if he would give me the highest amount of Novacaine even if it made me drool for the rest of the day. He obliged.

Here are just a few things I hate about the dentist: I hate the scraping noises of the dentist picking away at your teeth. I hate the way the instruments look--sharp and curled like fish hooks. I hate laying helplessly back in a chair with my mouth open for 30 minutes. I hate being afraid I'm going to choke or suffocate because I can't swallow properly with the fifteen instruments shoved in my mouth. I hate not knowing if he's suddenly going to hit a nerve. I hate the air stream thing--the way it sounds and how it hurts slightly when it hits your teeth. I hate not knowing if he's going to say, Well, you have 16 cavities. I hate thinking that if I make a sudden unexpected move to sneeze or cough, he could accidentally jab a hole in my cheek. I hate that he could hurt me and I might not be able to tell him to stop quickly enough. I hate wondering if the Novacaine might wear off in the middle of the treatment. I hate rinsing and spitting into that little round basin. I hate the bits that fly into the air as he's picking your teeth. I hate when it's all over and your face is numb and slack and you look like a stroke victim and can't eat for the next 5 hours. I hate that I have to go back there in 10 days and in the meantime, he cautioned me that my tooth might react badly to being picked at. I could develop an infection and severe pain. I should call him if this happens.

After he told me that my tooth is very decayed, we discussed the options. I voted for just pulling it out. He vetoed this idea. He said the root canal was the only way. He said it might take two separate appointments. The next appointment will take about an hour and a half. On the bright side, he will be prescribing me painkillers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

You are, like, so in shape!

I got into an imaginary fight with a girl at the gym yesterday, this twit on the stair machine talking on her cell phone. Did you know that Megan doesn't know that her boyfriend cheated on her? I know! I know! I can't believe it either. There are levels of cell phone rudeness. I'd say that talking on your phone in a public space is slightly rude (though I am guilty of the walk-n-talk). The next level would be talking on your cell phone in an enclosed public space such as restaurant or a subway where people can't easily get away from your conversation. The next step is talking on your cell phone in an enclosed public space LOUDLY. Like, Sorry, I have to shout but I can't hear you over the sound of the choir singing in here! She was yelling to her friend because she was surrounded by work out machines that make noise. I don't know, maybe the noise should be a sign that you shouldn't be talking on your fucking phone? Since you're also supposedly exercising? I gave her a couple of dirty looks but almost fell off the machine in the process and kept worrying that she'd be a tough girl and beat me up if I told her to shut it. I'm not good at that stuff. Even if I had said something, I probably would've felt bad about it. I was trying to practice positive energy but I hated her so much that I had to move to another machine.

Shawn finally purchased a cell phone this weekend from a guy on South St. who has Tourettes. He could speak to you normally, but when he stopped speaking, his left hand would jerk and curl and he'd twitch his head and go, Doh. Doh. Dddoh. He apologized and explained that he had Tourettes. We sat down to fill out the contract. He started flicking me off, over and over. He said, "Sorry. The tick's really bad today. I probably shouldn't go out on South St. or I'll get my ass kicked." I mean, maybe he didn't have Tourettes at all. Maybe he just didn't like our looks. Too bad he wasn't at the gym yesterday so he could've done the same to cell phone girl.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dental Phobia

It's a real phobia, people, don't laugh with your perfectly white and flossed teeth. Lots and lots of Web sites dedicate themselves to helping people overcome dental phobia, but the problem is that they are all implicitly trying to get you to VISIT the dentist.

I used to work at Northwestern University Dental School as a slave to 2 of the Deans there before they closed the school to spend money on something like football. The dental students were, on the whole, very nice and smart. For practice, they worked on indigent patients who had no health insurance and could not afford dental care on their own. Here is a horror story about a patient. If you suffer from dentaphobiaousness, do not read on.

Students did routine cleaning as well as more involved techniques like extractions and root canals. They were assigned certain stations to work in, sort of like cubicles with their own machines and equipment. One of the students forgot to clean the machine between appointments and when he tried to spray water into his patient's mouth, blood from the previous client flooded into the second patient's mouth. They had to do an AIDS test and everything. What would that be like to be lying backwards in a chair and feel something warm and coppery rush into your throat and realize it was blood and then worse, it wasn't yours?

But I've always feared dentists, in part because the tap water we used to drink when we lived in Illinois didn't have fluoride and my teeth were effected by it. I think I had like 6 cavities when I was eight years old. As an adult, I've only had one filling, a cheap one that fell out last year (still haven't been to the dentist to have it replaced), but I'm always afraid I"ll go and she or he will say, It's over. We're going to have to take them all out. They'll give me George Washington wooden dentures that clack together when I talk.

One of the first days we were in Mexico, I bit down on a piece of steak and a piece of my back tooth came off. Later in the trip, I ate a piece of toffee and the rest of the filling for that broken tooth also fell out. I'm lucky that it didn't expose a nerve. Now I just have a hole in my head. Every time I chew on that side, the food get stuck in there like paste. I can't stop touching the hole with the tip of my tongue. Okay, so I finally made an appointment for Thursday. Dr. Henry. I probably shouldn't tell him I have a cat with the same name. I did mention to him that I'm scared of dentists. He didn't seem to mind. As a profession, dentists have high suicide rates, but apparently not as high as vets as you can tell from
this recent BBC news article.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The ultimate outsider

C. Thomas Howell ("Ponyboy" in the film version of the SE Hinton classic, The Outsiders. I remember how profound I thought it was to write "Stay gold" in someone's middle school yearbook) made half of a cameo appearance in E.R. last night, playing a kidnapping pedophile whose three lines were, "Ergh!" "Where is she?" and "Let go!" What happened, C. Thomas Howell? Remember how much promise you had Soul Man, the overly racist (but totally typical of 80s) movie illustrating the backlash of affirmative action wherein your character wore blackface to be admitted into college? I always confuse him with Timothy Hutton, though I like TH much better and wanted to marry him after seeing Beautiful Girls. I just looked TH up on imdb and he's in pre and post production for about 5 movies, so that's a good sign. Anyway, E.R. has become this field of Where Are They Nows? Last night's episode alone featured John Stamos, John Leguizamo, that amazon lady from Third Rock from the Sun, the kid who used to be on Once and Again, and aforementioned C. Thomas Howell (whenever I write his name, I want to add "Thurston Howell, the Third").Before I forget, Philadelphia Weekly's lead article for this issue is "The Trouble with Hipsters and Why We Hate Them," which is hilarious in that they try so, so hard to be hip and most of their readership (you and I excluded, of course) are the Converse wearing, shaggy haircut sporting, dimly ironic, Urban Outfitter shopping, white 20-somethings covered in poorly rendered tattoos and unflattering facial piercings they proclaim to scorn and loathe. It's so uncool to pretend you're too cool to care about cool. You do. Just admit it. And you had six months in which you got it right, feeling like a poser the whole time until you heard some white- blond, Pat Benatar pre-Love is a Battlefield girl make fun of your shoes while you were waiting in line for the bathroom at Ray's Happy Birthday Bar.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Trading Spouses/Dysfunctions

I swear to you that I do not watch the show Trading Spouses on any kind of regular basis, but I happened upon it last night at a quarter to ten and it was either that or Veronica Mars, which I actually do like a lot. However, the short bit I saw of the show was so horrific that I was hooked in immediately. Reality shows are the car crashes of pop culture. This really, really, super fat woman with a gigantic gap in her teeth was crying to another woman about how she was worried about her family and all. Turns out the big woman, Marguerite, a devout Christian/Psychotic had switched with a family who believed in astrology and the summer solstice and liked stars and didn't read the Bible. In other words, they were the spawns of hell sent to destroy Marguerite and her family (except she never said "family;" it always came out as "fambly"). On the drive back to her home, M. was crying and sobbing, working herself up, saying things like, "I never knew I'd see what I saw there. NEVER! I never wanted to see what I saw there! Sweet Jesus!" I missed the whole first 45 minutes so it's possilbe the astrologists did do horrible things like light the other neighbor chirren on fire or defectate in a cemetery or offer up sacrifices to Satan in their back yard, but my guess is that maybe she saw a pack of Tarot cards under the phone book or noted a larger than ordinary collection of wind chimes. When she got back home, she flew into a rage and ripped up the letter the other woman had sent to the family where she designated $50, 000 however she saw fit. Maguerite was screeching and saying she was a warrior of God and all the cameramen who don't believe in Jesus should get thee out of the house. It suddenly occurs to me that maybe all of this was staged. I'd like to believe it because she appeared to be even crazier than Carrie's mom in the book of the same name (you know, the mom who calls breasts "dirty pillows" and ends up being crucifixed by silverware?). At the very end, they listed how the money had been given out and the last amount was $20,000 for M.'s gastric bypass surgery. Then the last line, "Marguerite has decided to accept the money." I'm not a huge fan of Fox network, but I love it that they portrayed the New Age-y peopls as rational and generous, and the Get Thee Behind Me as the irrational, ignorant, and hypocritical person of God.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Gear up for Christmas 2006!

I swear to God the second that the clock struck midnight on Halloween, holiday commercials started appearing on TV, department stores threw up holly and blinking lights, and the grocery store stocked the shelves with egg nog. Never too early to spend, spend, spend.

(Pic 1): Tabby as a Hugh Hefner bunny.

(Pic 2): My good friends Liz and Luke after our Halloween party when everyone had gone home.

Here are a two f-ed up things as of late:

(1). Our local newscast on Monday spent 15 minutes of a 30 minute broadcast feeding on the Terrell Owens dismissal. For those on you who aren't from Philadelphia or obsessed with dumb shit like pro football, TO was a receiver for the Eagles who was recently suspended and then asked to leave, I think b/c he insulted someone else . It's all over the news here while 25 seconds were given to a kid in Philly who was accidentally shot and killed by his friend's dad's handgun. Less than that amount of time was given to the riots in Argentina and Bush's inability to say more than "Me goostah bi-lar" in Spanish. Oh, or the recent news that we employed our own illegal weapons of mass destruction when bombing Fallujah by using phosphorous to melt the faces off citizens there. Since salon.com won't let you read their stuff without watching an ad beforehand, here's a cut and past version of the story:

Chemical weapons in Iraq? An old story, but new questions. Has the United States used chemical weapons in Iraq? That charge has been made repeatedly -- and carefully denied just as often -- over the past two years. There was an accusation that the United States used napalm in the first days of the war. The Pentagon denied it, but then admitted that U.S. troops had, in fact, used a "napalm-like" substance in Mark-77 bombs during their march to Baghdad. After the offensive in Fallujah a year ago, there were charges that U.S. troops had used white phosphorus shells against human targets there. The U.S. denied those charges too, admitting that it had used phosphorus shells "very sparingly in Fallujah" but only "for illumination purposes." And on Sept. 11 of this year, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed that U.S. troops had used chemical weapons during fighting in Tal Afar. The United States issued another denial, calling Zarqawi's claims a "standard disinformation technique."

The U.S. denials may all be correct, at least technically so. But a broadcast this week by the Italian state television network, RAI, is raising the question all over again. As the BBC and the Independent are reporting today, the RAI report alleges that the United States used both white phosphorus and the "napalm-like" Mark-77 bombs during the Fallujah assault in November 2004.

The RAI report relies on the words of a former U.S. soldier who said he fought at Fallujah and heard a warning that white phosphorus was about to be used there; the claims of a biologist in Fallujah, who says that a "rain of fire" fell on the city; and photographs, posted on RAI's Web site, that purport to show the burned bodies of Fallujah residents. RAI charges that the use of white phosphorus as a weapon rather than as an illuminating device would constitute the illegal use of a chemical weapon.

So far as we can tell, the mainstream press in the United States hasn't picked up on the story, but the international press certainly has. Al Jazeera has posted the BBC's story on its English-language Web site, complete with graphic photos from RAI.

There's no new response from the Pentagon yet. In the denial issued late last year, the Pentagon insisted that, in Fallujah, white phosphorus shells "were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."

We are such liars and bullies.

The second thing that boggles my mind is that we continue to celebrate white collar criminals like Martha Stewart. I know this is old news, but I saw a preview of her appearance on Jay Leno and she was saying, "Yes, I made apple soup for all the prisoners." And she has her own show. Like, what do rich white pop culture figures have to do to be cut out of the public eye or ostracized in some way? Well, I guess you could take a stance against the war. That's a sure way to lose cred.

Here, let's not talk about it. Let's look at two more pics from our Halloween party.

(Pic 3): I live with this man, this hip hop Jesus. That is not his real hair, by the way, though the beard is authentic and so are the stigmata.
(Pic 4): Our friend Jimmy wearing the wig I was going to use as Sylvia Plath.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Sickly head

Am home sick today (a double entendre. "Home sick" as in not feeling well and "home sick" as in missing Mexico). Should've known this would happen after the go-go-go vacation we had along with the long travel day on Sunday and waking up early and out of sorts yesterday. I hate coming back from vacation especially when I nkow that I won't have more time off for a long while. The cats and I are planning a fabulous day together of shedding, meowing at the ceiling for no apparent reason, and sitting in the houseplant. At some point, I need to eat something, but it will have to be something made out of sour cream & onion potato chips, wheat bread, pickles, and over-ripe tomatoes b/c we don't have anything else in the fridge.

What else about our trip? Neither one of us own a watch and so we never exactly knew what time it was. Didn't use my cell phone except maybe twice to check the time. Spoke to most people in Spanish, including the whitey-whites we encountered. Shawn gets offended when gringos speak English to him in a foreign country. He answers in Spanish. We did see a lot of Americans who made no effort to learn the language and would instead just speak louder in English or over-enunciate the please and thank-you words everyone knows. "Oh, hey, moochas grahcee-us." We found that most Mexicans would continue talking to us in Spanish even when we were struggling a little, which I thought was a nice show of faith on their part. (Aside: on a survey we handed out at work, one person answered "American" to the question "What languages do you speak?"). We kept a journal for most days and so I don't feel like I need to recount every detail here, and doing so makes me feel sad because it's over. I think you can fall in love with a place like it's a person though it takes time to really know it or to truly love it. So, I have a crush on Mexico. And I don't think he's going to be calling me any time soon.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Where's My Donkey?

We have returned from our ten day excursion to Mexico, not that much the worse for wear, a little tanner, a little more fluent in Spanish, a lot more respect for the country, its citizens, and the landscape itself is often breathtakingly beautiful. Two animal observations: (1). In the more rural areas, you will often stumble upon donkeys/burros standing alone on a long stretch of otherwise uncultivated land, munching grass and braying, seeming to belong to no one. Shawn wondered aloud if the donkeys are public property. Like, no one official owns them, but if you need one, you just hop on, kick, and go. I counter guessed that they do belong to individual family's, but that they're maybe not that easy to track. So, one title for our trip is, Where's my Donkey? (2). The competing title for our trip is "Dog Teats for Everyone," because every single female dog we saw in the wild had teats for their puppies (Don't worry about eating chickens or hogs or cattle from Mexico, by the way. The livestock run all over the place and can be found in kitchens, backyards, and hammocks). The dog teats phenomenon depressed me. There are already so many gnarly, starving dogs that it sucks to think that the girl dogs get pregnant every single time they can as there's not much in the way of nuetering going on. In fact, any time two dogs were together, it was only a matter of time before one was humping the other one. Mexico City, in particular, had tons of free range mongrels, including poodles, German Shepherds, a golden retriever pup and one very skinny Cocker Spaniel. I knew this aspect of the trip would bother me and it did, though admittedly, the dogs were pretty friendly and not all of them looked to be dying, even as they limped, toothless across the Palazzo to nose at the garbage scattered on the tiles.

What else did we learn on our journey? Well, Lonely Planet only goes so far. For instance, very few of the LP entries include dire warnings of where not to eat, sleep, or drive as we discovered when we (and by "we" I clearly mean "Shawn") decided to rent a car and drive from Mexico City to Taxco to Zihuentenjo. Not a huge problem to get from MC to Taxco, except what you may not know about this little colonial silver town is that the streets are 4 feet wide, filled with people with baskets on their heads and young children, and the cobbled roads all go straight up a very steep hill at about a 180 degree incline which makes for awesome driving when you have a Nissan automatic rented from the aeropuerto. Shawn did the best screech around the main fountain...The kind of lurch and scream of the car that makes fighting teenagers stop punching each other to look at you dumb white americans as your car jerks across the pavement in stops and starts that make you hit your head on the dashboard. He did so so so so well, for real, until the very last turn into our hotel when the car rolled quickly backward instead of forward and hit the wall behind us making a small dent and peeling off car paint. Okay, but that's fine. We just parked the mother for the rest of our stay and chugged up the streets ourselves, unaware that the very worst was yet to come.

This would be Tuesday on the drive from Taxco to Zihuantenjo down 95. On the map, 95 looks like a normal road. It doesn't disappear occassionally into the trees or turn into a dotted line or get crossed by a river or anything. Until you get on it. 95 S. runs up and down several mountains. It seemed as though I, as the passenger, was always on the side that was nearest a huge plunge down the mountain without a guardrail. We saw this sign about 1,590 times: It lost its pertinence after the 100th time. Okay,we get it. The roads are very, very curvy. Every 20-40 minutes, we would crash through a rural town that had its own set of dangers, namely, the burros mentioned above, or the dogs, or the speed bumps, or the children who don't mind meandering across the road. Worse, there were no other signs to tell us how far we'd come or how far we had to go to get to the next town. There was also nowhere to turn off if we did decide to stop. And the sun was setting. And then we hit road construction; pot holes that were ten inches deep and just as wide. Luckily, no one else was on the road (because the road was almost undrivable). We thought it might be bad for a few kms or so. It was bad for the next four hours. At one point in our journey, we found ourselves inching down the road next to a herd of horned cattle, with the cattleherd guy running alongside to shoo the cows off to the left so we could get through. And the light was fading. Just before that, we had to pull off to have our car searched by the Federales with their automatic weapons. I tried to use my cleavage to distract the Captain. I don't know if it worked, but they didn't find anything of note. The Captain warned us not to push on but to find a hotel in this small town he circled on the map. He said the roads were very bad and it would be dark soon. An hour later, we reached the town. The sun was just above the treetops and fading fast. Shawn said, I want to press on. We passed yet another "peligroso!" road sign with rusty bullet holes in it. I said, For the record, I think this is a bad idea. I imagined my phrase would echo in our ears when we were hijacked by the Zapitistas and I would be right though also dead. But still right though. It got dark. Shawn swears he saw a tarantula cross the road. We cut across a small river. Finally, finally, finally, we saw the lights of the Pemex gas station. We had made it. It was already becoming mythology, the story we would tell about the trip. I was telling the story even in the middle of it, even as we entered a short section of the mountains that numerous signs and the Captain had warned about, both sign and man repeating, Nieblas, nieblas, while we nodded, oh, okay, the pebbles are bad there? Actually, nieblas are big white foglike clouds that distort and cover your vision. Still, I knew if we made it, that part of the vacation would be the main story we would tell, at least I had to keep reminding myself we would get to repeat the tale so that I wouldn't think about flying off the cliff into the nieblas and tumbling down the side of the beautiful, beautiful mountain.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

(upsidedown question mark) Donde esta el bano?

Very soon, Shawn and I will be leaving the country to visit the largest cuidad in the world, Mexico City. We're staying there for 3 days and then traveling on to a smaller city that begins with the letter "T" (I think) and then Acapulco and one other place and back to el Cuidad de Mexico. I am afraid I will see too many starving dogs to enjoy it, not to mention the poor people. My friend Kali said to think of the dogs in Mexico differently since their culture doesn't view dogs in the same way we do. She said, Think of the dogs as squirrels. This idea helps for some reason, at least in an abstract way. I'm not sure how I'll feel when faced with their bony bodies. (By the way, in preparation for our trip, we rented Amores los Perros ["Love is a Bitch"] last week which is [in part] about dog-fighting. Last night, Shawn had rented Frida which should be called Diego because it's mostly about Diego Rivera and his work and success or about their relationship, but not very much about her life as an artist or any insight into her psyche. I read some things about her this afternoon for about 15 mintues and I feel like the producers of the movie also did about 15 minutes of Internet research before making the movie. Selma Hayek was beautiful as Frida despite the caterpillar eyebrow). I think I'll bring a gun just in case I need to shoot any of the starving dogs to put them out of their misery. We may also be mugged and/or kidnapped for ransom. The mugging would be more beneficial for the muggees because my family doesn't really have any money to give them for my safe return. My stepdad could probably scrape together about $350 but that's it. Shawn has said that if we're mugged, I should just act retarded. The last thing I'm worried about it being infected by a horrible bacteria and soiling myself in the middle of a museum. I will carry around an extra pair of underwear just in case and maybe some shennanigans will result that incorporate all 3 of my fears in a favorable way. Like, I'll be in the middle of being mugged by a guy and when I pull out my wallet a pair of dirty underwear will fly out and hit him in the face just as a starving dog lunges at his pocket filled with beef jerky. That's what would happen if it were a Drew Barrymore movie. We're renting a car instead of taking public transportation. Shawn has assured me that we won't be hijacked in the car or crashed into, but he mentioned last night that he's not sure how great the highways are leading from Mexico City to where we're going. He's been studying Spanish diligently in preparation and I have been absorbing it by proxy. Oh, here's a fourth thing I don't want to have happen: I drink too much tequila and puke for three days straight. I can't wear my contacts either because of the smog.

La Cuidad de Mexico con el negro perro

We'll be there for the Dia del Muerto, their celebration in remembrance of the dead. From what I read, we won't be trick or treating, but we may eat floured tortillas on a grave. I was snotty about the art work; picturing big Aztec or Southwestern type crap until Shawn took me into a Mexican art store on South street...Still lots of ornate, bright pieces, some of which were really cool. We will not be returning with sombreros, so help me Dios.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Hostess with the Okayest

The party went fine, though no one hooked up or got into a fight or anything else. The most interesting thing that happened was that I gave a Columbian guy a peek at my right nipple. It was in front of a bunch of people within the context of the conversation about how my dress was lowcut and dangerous. I went and told Shawn right away. He was unfazed, probably because he ran around in a banana hammock last year asking girls to help him find his keys (which were stuffed in his crotch). I don't really like hosting parties unless everyone promises to have the best time of their lives, to go home before 2 AM, to not spill or break anyting or throw up on the floor or on anyone else, to bring and leave behind tons of good alcohol, and to love me, my apartment, and the tiny carrots I threw on a tray for snacks. Even Jimmy was fairly well behaved. He did talk to Shawn's boss about poop, but he always talks about poop. He also spun around on the dance floor with beer flying in all directions. For him, this is tame. Last year, he bent over and showed me his entire asshole, threatened to punch my friend Liz (he shook his fist at her, saying, You people and your feather boas!), and kept throwing himself on the floor to pop the green balloons on his costume that were meant to make him look like a bunch of grapes on a Mad Dog bottle. No one did anything untoward, which is slightly disappointing. The best part of the evening was when I walked out of the bedroom and saw Luke and Liz and Shawn dancing in the middle of the living room and realized everyone else had gone home. We danced in our socks with the strobe lights flashing and then I cleaned up all the sticky cups. Shawn was convinced not to go as the actual crucifixed Jesus in a droppy diaper type loincloth with a crucifix strapped to his back and instead was kind of a hip hop Jesus with tattoos. He got to spend the whole night with his shirt off which I think was his main wish. I was a mermaid caught in a net. With her one boob showing accidentally.

Oh, one other idea for you since the real Halloween isn't here yet: You could wear 1950s clothes and a pair of those nerdy glasses with one of the lenses smashed and then attach a fake crow to your head or your shoulers or all over and add blood running down your face and you are suddenly from Hitchcock's The Birds.

Friday, October 21, 2005

You May Steal Any of These Ideas, But Footnote Me

Every year around Halloween, I obsess about costumes. I have 3 C's for my Halloween costumes:

(1). Cute. My friend Jodie once went as Gus the Rotarian. She had a bald wig, moustache, and a pillow stuffed underneath a business suit. She was very funny and unrecognizable. I am not this brave. I still want to be moderately attractive. I don't mind being covered in blood (I prefer it), but I want to be a pretty corpse at least.
(2). Comfortable. I will never go as anything requiring me to wear a box or a ten pound headdress. I need to be able to sit down and walk with ease.
(3). Clever. I don't want to go as a cat or a cheerleader or a fairy or a football player. (*Halloween costume tip #1: If you do find yourself having to go in one of these costumes, just add blood and/or the implication of violence and it's much more interesting. Like, be a cat that's been run over, or a serial killer cheerleader or a fairy with an arrow through its head or a football player in a body cast and you're golden).

Here was my idea for this year: Sylvia Plath. See, because I'm going to be a hostess to a party on Saturday, I thought I could go as her...this sort of hostess prototype in a way... and wear a 1950s dress with a string of pearls and carry around a tray loaded with martinis, but I could add the death part too. For non English majors, Sylvia Plath was a poet who killed herself by sticking her head in the oven and inhaling carbon monoxide. I thought I could blacken my face, burn up part of the blond wig, and draw a grill on the side of my face and it would be funny. But I realized as I was explaining my idea to the 15 year old kid at the costume store that I would be spending the whole night doing the this very same thing; telling people who I was supposed to be (Halloween costume tip #2: Never go as anything too obscure or you will have to explain yourself every 5 seconds and begin to hate everyone around you who just isn't SMART ENOUGH to know who Abbey Hoffman is). So F Sylvia Plath. But, hey, you should go for it if you're invited to a party hosted by the graduate English department in your area. You might also consider: Virginia Woolf (find a fake nose and carry rocks around in your apron pockets), Anne Sexton (a poet who, like Plath, killed herself by inhaling carbon monoxide. She did it in the garage however), or, if you're a guy, dress all manly, drape a cat over your shoulders, wear a beard, and get one of those make-up kits that allows you to do shotgun victim and voile! Ernest Hemingway.

Well, so I'm not going as Sylvia Plath this year. I came up with something less obscure and less violent. I do still need a fake harpoon though, if you happen to own one.

During a very typically unimportant dept. meeting the other day, I made a list of 25 possible ideas. Here are the top 10 ideas, why I rejected them, and a glimpse into my dark and nerdy little heart:

1. Carrie during the pig blood at prom scene.
Reason rejected: how does one give the illusion of being doused in blood the entire night?

2. Freudian Slip. My personal fav since my roommate in college used it. You wear a slip and then a banner that reads "Freudian." RR: Maybe a little too clever for its own good. Plus I wore a banner last year as Miss Fortune. Plus it seemed too easy.

3. Marie Antoinette with a slit throat. RR: I'm not paying that kind of $$ required for a period costume and wig combo. Plus, her head was entirely chopped off so it's not really accurate to just have a slit throat.

4. One of Jack the Ripper's victims. RR: Though it would be fun to be a turn-of-the-century prostitute, it would be difficult to do this costume well without being totally gross or naked or both b/c, as Shawn informed me, Jack the Ripper sliced his victims up the middle. Walking around a party with your intestines hanging out is just impolite.

5. 1950's Girl Dead from a Drag Racing Accident. RR: Didn't realize until yesterday that you could buy shards of glass make-up kits. Will put this on my list for another year.

6. Drowned Ice Skater. RR: My friend Hoffer went as this for Halloween one year and looked really good, her face all blue with icicles in her hair. However, you really need to wear ice skates with the shields on them and I don't own any of those, plus it's uncomfortable, plus my ankles turn in when I wear ice skates.

7. Shawn's Dream Girl. If I could find a way to construct a low-cut dress made exclusively from atlases and road maps and wore that with my boobs hanging out, I would be my urban planner boyfriend very happy. RR: Too narrow. Only he and some of his friends would get it and I don't know where I would begin in making that dress.

8. Fashion victim. RR: This is still in the conceptual stage. Can't figure out how I would convey this idea though I picture leg warmers, gauchos, Vogue magazine, and cowboy boots + blood (it's always "+ blood").

9. Marionette skeleton from Dia del Muerto. Topical since we're going to Mexico City next week. RR: Don't want to walk around with my face painted like a skeleton all night and how would I do the puppet strings?

10. Sharon Tate. RR: I don't look anything like her. No one would no who I am, plus it's pretty sick and weird. Ditto Squeaky Fromme.

You may be happy to know that my final costume choice is very tame, not that violent, and not extremely clever. My friend Karen spent 4 hours at my house last night helping me make it (i.e. use the stapler and glue gun). On the final try on, she looked at me and said, Huh. It's cute. And it's definitely home-made looking. (Halloween costume tip #3: If you're making your costume using office supplies, it's going to suck).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I Am Veal

I once had use of my legs. I once walked twenty minutes to and from work five days a week plus I would stand up for a few hours a day while teaching, plus I'd walk around town. Not in Philly. Here, I have two modes of being: driving in a car or sitting in a chair. These two modes are broken by periodic short walks to either get food or to pee. In State College, I actually had to walk outside and around the back of the apartment building to get to my car. Here, I park on the street so close to my building that I could reach out the apartment window to fish change out of the glove compartment of my car. I drive to work and park fourteen steps from the front door and walk another 20 steps to my swivel chair where I sit for 8 1/2 hours a day, expelling energy only from blinking and typing. Every once in awhile, I stand up and walk over to the candy dish near Karen's desk. At least once or twice a week, we must celebrate someone's something and are given sheet cake or chocolate chip cookies or Dunkin donuts or bagels with cream cheese. Then at 5 PM, I walk back out to my car, drive home, park three steps from my front door and am sitting at my home computer within 10 minutes. In other words, I have become white-collar veal. My friend Kali, who no longer works here, says she has lost pounds and pounds since she quit (she's working as a hostess now). Why don't I just give in completely and buy an electronic wheelchair?

I was complaining about this to my other friend Hasana, who teaches philosophy at McGill in Montreal, and she said she puts on her I-pod and walks 40 minutes to work and back and now her pants are falling off her and she still eats all the cake she wants.

This morning, I walked to work even though I don't own an I-pod (I asked Shawn if I could borrow his Walkman and he said, "Yeah, but Walkman's tend to skip around," as if I'd been using an I-pod my entire life). It took me about 35 minutes to get here (give or take a guilty stop at a mega coffee company who had an advertisement for a job fair scrawled across the chalkboard. I briefly considered giving up my cubicle life to become a barista. I changed my mind because I decided I would hate all the customers, such as the woman in front of me who was with her one year old and doing that thing where she was attributing all these brilliant thoughts and actions to her dumb baby. He pulls 6 CDs off the display and she says, "Oh! Does Brandon want Mommy to buy this for him? Does Brandon like mixed CDs?" No, Brandon's just a little asshole). I like walking. It makes me feel superior to people in cars. It reminds me that I live in an interesting city. Listening to Billy Bragg on the Walkman while walking up 4th street makes it much easier to pretend I'm in a movie about a spunky girl who refuses to let 8:30-5 life get her down. I have the chance to pet dogs. I don't get frustrated by the clot of traffic that trickles along 3rd street. I will probably never do it again, but at least today I have used my legs to get me to and fro.

A new way to get around town.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Draw-ling class has been cancelled indefinitely& other startling news flashes

Karen and I have temporarily to permanently decided not to attend drawing class. Last week, we stayed in because she was helping me organize the closet and ended up knocking down the clothing pole (and then fixing it with my Black and Decker power drill; my mom was very excited about buying one for me), and she was also sneezing and we hadn't had our delicious frozen dinners yet and so fuck it, we decided to watch the second episode of My So-Called Life instead of learning how to draw another grid over another famous painting we could never hope to replicate. Tonight, we will be searching for cowboy boots and other assorted Halloween items, so you can see, we just can't really be bothered with art.

My other exciting news is that Gretel caught a mouse Sunday. It was all fun and games until I heard the mouse squeak in terror. A little gray thing. Shawn kept saying, Oh, it's a baby! I was pleased with Gretel, but sad for the mouse. I went downstairs to open up the front of our apartment door in anticipation of one of us being able to save the mouse and set it free. Shawn followed me, saying, Do we have a shoebox? By the time we came back upstairs to try to do something about the mouse, it had escaped. Gretel has a Pavlovian attachment to sound of the front door opening as she's been allowed out on the front porch exactly 3 times. She sacrificed the mouse's freedom in hopes of gaining her own. Now I'm guessing we have a dead and decomposing baby mouse under our fridge. She was on mouse patrol last night again though...crouched by the refrigerator, waiting for the wounded mouse or its siblings to scurry out. She's a beast. And she's 17. You wouldn't think she had it in her to kill again, but she does.

I dreamt last night that Burger King decided to also sell denim dresses and an entire denim clothing line alongside their burgers; clothing very similar to the slut wear Guess sells. Then it morphed into me telling someone about the dream about BK and the clothes because I thought it was very clever of me to dream about crass commercialism. On a related note, why do they now have a scary plastic BK guy in all of their commercials? If I were a kid, I'd never want to go to Burger King just out of fear that the plastic-faced man might be lurking near the fry machine. Do you ever have the experience of watching an advertisement on TV and deciding you must be stoned or somehow altered by a gasoline leak because there's no way anyone would create such a thing? I thought that last night with the new Target ad, this long drawn-out video/commercial of red and white circles dropping out of the sky like rain. I couldn't spot a single product. The whole thing was based on the image of Target as...?? Acid rain?

Which reminds me of something else I thought of this weekend about how around Halloween time, especially in Philly but I've noticed this in other places too, you can often find yourself questioning if the person you're seeing on the street is seriously dressed that way or if it's a costume. In other words, are they from Jersey or are they on their way to a Halloween party?

Are any of these costumes?

P.S. In my search for bad fashion examples for this entry, found a
Vogue magazine layout thematically centered around Alice in Wonderland and shot by Annie Lebowitz. Hot, hot, hot.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Hot or Not

Is it okay to wear a pin on my sweater or does it automatically categorize me as one of those women who wear pins? Aren't pins coming back in along with the leg warmers and the gauchos (which I refuse to even consider)? It's not a wreath or a kitty cat or an angel. It's this head of a flapper girl in profile. I'm counteracting the pin with tiny-squared nude-colored mesh stockings and high brown boots plus an obnoxious sparkly ring so I'm hoping the pin looks somewhat ironic or whatever. And world hunger, massive devastation by our military, and the AIDS crisis in Africa continue, but does this pin look dumb?

We had two fashion casualties at work this week. One was this woman who wears clothes that are two sizes too small; she has a massive chest and it's always barely restrained by an off-white shell. Last year, her skirt was so short that when she sat down, you could see the control top of her panty hose. It's not that she's trying to look provocative. She just doesn't seem to be able to find clothes that fit. Anyway, the other day she wore a short skirt with a flared hem that fell just below her ass, high heels, a matching jacket, and the off-white shell again. She had forgotten to remove the huge price tags from the bottom of both shoes and so when she walked away, you were flashed with $29.99 over and over again. My friend told her and she said, You know, I just never pay attention to those things.

Yesterday, another employee was wearing a very dressy, low-cut jacket with a long black skirt with a high slit, black mesh stockings, and black combat boots. She looked like one of those flip-books from when you were little where you can change the head, torso, and legs so like the head is a princess, the body a pirate, and the legs from the ballerina.

I am a bitch.

This pin does not look good either, I've decided, but I'm committed to keeping it on for the rest of the day. Monday, I think I'll show up in my new sequined blouse and high waist khaki Dockers. Tuesday: a hounds tooth Talbot's blazer with a Victorian-necked shirt and flowing, ankle length calico Gunny Saks skirt. Wednesday: hump day! Time to turn up the heat with a zippered lime green pant suit with black flats. I’ll add a white kerchief around my neck for some flare and a white sailor hat. Then Thursday: Things really get heated up with the denim-squared vest over a white turtleneck and brown corduroy skirt with Docksiders. Friday: though we don't observe casual day on Friday in the winters, I'll risk getting written up for the sheer pleasure of wearing my new sweatshirt with the kittens tumbling across it, my white Reeboks, and black leggings. I'm sure I will be headed to HR by the end of the day what with all the wolf whistles and propositions that I'll evoke.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

On the next episode of Law and Order: An unsolved murder during a hurricane called "Catherina"

I confess that I watch Law and Order SVU and Law and Order SUV and Law and Order Criminal Intent and Law and Order Murder She Wrote and I never critiqued myself about it until Shawn came along and started groaning whenever the possibility of watching a L&O episode arose. Sunday night, I convinced him to watch Criminal Intent with me through sheer bribery that required me to rub his back for the whole hour and endure his comments about how dumb the show is and of course, it was an extremely bad example, i.e. Corbin Bernson was the guest star and you could see from a mile away that he was also the secret bad guy. L&O always has a secret bad guy; a character introduced early on as an aside who surfaces again later as the one who murdered all the co-eds because his mother forced him to wear cheerleading outfits as a boy. So by virtue of the fact that there's always a secret bad guy, you can pretty much guess who's responsible. But then the other thing that happens all the time is that they get these very miniscule clues that save their case at the last minute. In this one, they found an old envelope containing pink sand that could only, only be found in this one yard in all of the island of New York. In addition, the final moments of the show had Corbin (who was pretending to be a nice guy even though he'd hired an ex-con to kill his wife) illustrate his true colors with the duped wife watching on the other side of the secret cop mirror. Like, the smarmy detective goes, "Your wife wants to open this greeting card business. I think she's a great artist." And Corbin sneers back, "Yeah, if you like talent less bitches" or something like that--something you would never do if you were pretending to be in love with your wife to beat a jail sentence. Now Shawn will never watch it with me again.

But he was in Savannah last night, replanning their cityscape, so I was able to watch L&O in peace. Unfortunately, another pitfall of the show is that they try to keep things semi-topical and only slightly veiled with other stories. Like, after the Jeffrey Dahmer arrest, they had a similar show about a wire-rimmed glasses wearing weirdo gay cannibal named Joffrey Daimer (played by none other than Chad Lowe. No, he wasn't the actor in that one, though CL did appear as a cannibal of female flesh in more recent episode). Last night's episode was about none other than our balloon-following friend, Teri Schiavo. Except in this version, her name was Karen (just like that other persistent vegetable state person named Karen Anne Quindlan. Is this supposed to be a clever inside joke for people born before 1988?). They deviated from the story somewhat in that Teri's family blew up the husband to prevent him from removing the feeding tube, but still. The show was sympathetic of the family's plight, presenting this faux complex ethical question, Wouldn't you kill another person who was trying to murder your beloved and helpless family member? They didn't address the more important questions about quality of life or the actual likelihood of her recover (nil) or the fact that she has the brain capacity of a houseplant.

In other TV news, caught some of America’s Top Dead Girl. They cut the fat girl; what a shocker. Here is this plus-sized girl surrounded for several weeks (or is it hours? Who knows in reality TV since they stretch the season on to 20 times its real time length) by fawnlike girls who subsist on nothing more than Evian and air, and Tyra Banks tells her, “You’ve just lost that sparkle of confidence you used to have when you first arrived.” No shit. I lose self-esteem just from watching the show while eating ginger cookies. Twiggy, the world’s first super model, is a judge and she sat down to give the girls a heart-to-heart talk, explaining to them that before she hit the scene, models were voluptuous, healthy, normal sized girls, but that she was luckily able to change all that to create the first ever heroin chic chic. Her point was that they should embrace their flaws; a way to reinforce this point would’ve been to keep Plus Sized, but they sent her off without even a recommendation to a photographer at More magazine.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Beat Jesus

With the exception of the PBS version of the local radio stations in Philadelphia (XPN), we really don't have an eclectic selection of music to choose from on dial. Since I'm generally in the car for an average of 11 minutes a day (to and from work), this doesn't matter too much, but one of the challenges I face every day is trying to skip over the Jesus stations as quickly as possible. This has always been a problem. Your scanner stops on a song that could be good...Could be some new Emo band or another that you're just not cool enough to recognize within the first three measures. So you keep it on the station and sort of don't pay attention until you start to hear one of the following key words/phrases that tip you off to the fact that you're awash in the love of Jesus:

Hallelujah, My Savior, Lord God (and various permutations of this: God Our Lord, Lord of all Gods, God, You're Lord), He is King, Jesus has Risen, On the Cross, Crown of Thorns, Redemption, Have Mercy on Me, What Would Jesus Do?

Tricky words/phrases that have been in nonsecular songs but still sound suspicious: Save me, Sister Christian, Fiery Pits of Hell, "Papa, Don't Preach," Son of a Preacher Man, Bethlehem, Starry, Starry Night, Crucify Me, I'm on the Way to Shambhala, Peace Train, Here He Comes Again.

Other points of confusion: Country Western music. Usually there's a God thrown in there somewhere, but it's not always the focus. Half fake Christian rock bands like U2, Creed, Clearwater Creedence Revival, Marilyn Manson.

I was fake-saved at least two times in high school to gain the attention of a real Christian boy named Rob who wore high top blue Converse sneakers and was the keyboardist in a Christian rock band that actually toured. I even had a hardcover Bible with see-through pages and I would write (in pencil) little stars by what I thought were particularly signficant Biblical passages. In retrospect, they all centered around my faith as it applied to Rob wanting to make out with me. "For he who hath waited 100 days in patient faith of what is to come so shall he be rewarded by the gold of heaven." (translantation: If I keep my fingers crossed and don't do anything, he'll want to make out with me). "And the woman shall cover her hair with a tablecloth and walk with the grace of angels until she begats many sons of god." (Translation: I should buy that straw hat and wear it to the youth group meeting on Wednesday night and he will fall in love with me). You get the point. We did finally make out on two separate occassions, but neither one of us heard the trumpet of angels and he told one of my guy friends he could never really like me because my boobs were too big. I always took this to mean that my breasts would distract from his relationship with Jesus.

P.S. On a very tangential note, I can't remember if Christopher Reeves is dead or not. I kind of think he did die, but I'm not sure. He used to mean so much to me, when I was a pre-teen watching Superman on the big screen. Now when I think of him, I mostly remember the Onion story after Reeves was in the wheelchair that had a headline like, "Christopher Reeves to be placed on top of the Washington Monument."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dead People Say the Darndest Things

As part of my job, I hear stories on a weekly and sometimes daily basis about the many, many gruesome and mundane ways that you can die. Because of confidentiality rules, I can't be too specific but here are the top ten ways to become brain dead:

1. You are an electrician/roofer/window washer and frequently climb ladders as part of your job. One day, you slip/lose your balance/are stung by a bee and fall in slow motion to the concrete driveway in front of your five year old daughter (who probably later grows up and becomes a drug addict. See #4).

2. You wake up one day with the worst headache of your life. You complain about it. You take 3 Advil and lie down in the bedroom. Later, a loved one finds you unresponsive with foam on your lips. You are rushed to the emergency room where a CAT scan reveals that you have a blood clot/tumor/hemorrhage in your brain. You should've gone to the hospital right away. They might have been able to save you then.

3. You're a teenage boy and you've been out drinking Pabst with your friends on a Friday night. It's 3 AM, way past your curfew and it's raining. You drive you and your four unrestrained passengers (including the girl you have a crush on) into a telephone pole/embankment/Mac truck.

4. Life has not been easy. You've always been a troubled soul or maybe not; maybe you've always been a good kid, on the honor role in a private Catholic school. In any case, you (either through frequent use or on a whim because you've been doing shots of tequila) decide to shoot up with this really good shit your friend's friend Adam just brought in from New York. You O.D. and at your funeral, everyone says what a great kid you were, so nice to everyone you met.

5. You are a black kid living in Northeast Philadelphia. You will be shot point blank in the face with no exit wound.

6. It's Saturday and you and your family are spending it at the shore with the rest of the Jerseyites. You're hot and tell your spouse that you're going to go in the water for a minute. You wade out into the ocean until you're feet are just barely touching the sandy ground. You take a deep breath, dive into the cold water, have a seizure, inhale tons of water into your lungs, and drown.

7. For years, your family has worried about you because you just can't seem to get it together. You haven't formally been diagnosed with clinical depression or bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or maybe you have been labeled but you're not taking your meds. You are hounded by what Franklin Delano Roosevelt called "the black dog" of depression. You find a jump rope/bottle of tranquilizers/shotgun/paring knife/skyscraper and say sayonara to this cruel world. You are discovered by one of your family members who (like little girl in #1) will never lose the image of your lost and lifeless body).

8. Freak accident. You eat a bunch of roasted apple seeds at a sporting event not realizing that in high concentrations they act like cyanide to your system. You throw a rock at a tree and it bounces off and hits you in the forehead. You step out to get the mail in your socks and are struck by lightning. You slip on that bar of soap you've dropped in the shower approximately 768 times before this and smash your head on the tile. It is senseless, and, for years afterwards, people like to tell the story of your death at cocktail parties.

9. Just don't mess with anything electric. Especially if you're standing in water.

10. You are a pedestrian talking on your cell phone as you cross the street. Or you are a cyclist who doesn't want to mess up her hair by wearing a helmet. Or you are on your new lime green Vespa, thinking of other things. And a Greyhound bus flattens you before you even have a chance to change your course.

The lesson: We will all die, but some ways are worse than others and I vote for heart attack at the age of 80, please.

Friday, October 7, 2005

Subway Terror Alert: Your Metro Card Could be Explosive

David Cross has this great part of his comedy routine where he points out how the Administration raises the terror alert every time Bush or his minions do something horrible (Cross also has a bit about Bush wondering what it will take to get the public outrage and how he decides to eat a Jewish baby just because he can). It's like Wizard of Oz; Look at the scary thing! Look! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Like, what should NYC do about the subway terrorists are coming alert? Not ride the train? Ride the train but pee a little whenever a dark-skinned man steps on your car? Answer "I support" to public opinon polls about Bush? And don't forget to be afraid of hurricanes. They can kill! Even though N. Orleans flooded not because of the hurricane itself but b/c of the levees. Still! Watch out for hurricanes. You too might find yourself on your rooftop with your dog and an empty Evian water bottle. Our government and our media work like terrorists too (in more ways than one)using the threat of
disaster to scare everyone into submission.

In brighter news, congratulations to Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise for the best publicity stunt yet to deny homosexuality through artifical insemination or perhaps several painful episodes of intercourse with Hot Teen Boy Camp XXX playing in wide screen TV next to the bed! I used to sort of like Katie Holmes though she does have a simpering sweetness that's annoying and she's constantly sucking in her cheekbones, but now...I just wish she wouldn't walk around with her teeth clamped together in a robotic smile. I get that it's tough for Tom to come out to an American public obsessed with family vaules and saving the '"chirren" from predatory gay men (though statistically speaking, child molesters are more often men also involved in heterosexual relationships. I just made that up, but I think it's true). How many "out" actors exist who still play straight, male lead roles? I can think of zero, male or female. Look at Anne Heche. She starred with Harrison Ford in that dumb movie about a plane crash, then proclaimed her love for Ellen DeGeneres, then was offered nothing until she went non-gay and produced a child to show she likes dick. So, yes, okay, Tom, you don't have many options. Given your situation, I might do the same. But Katie, why, oh, why?

Which kiss is worse? Be suspicious of a man who puts his whole hand on your face during a kiss as if he's trying to block out your features because he's imagining someone more masculine. Or one who covers you entirely to disguise the fact that he's only presses his lips to yours ala a 1940s movie screen kiss. In any case, both kisses look staged and awkward.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

I would like to give Mr. Darcy (as played by Colin Firth) the best bj of his life

If he were, in fact, a real person. It is a cliche, I'm sure, to have a crush on Mr. Darcy from the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, not to mention the degree of nerdiness it reveals. Firth's Darcy is not handsome in a conventional way; no rippling muscles, eyes are plain brown, same with his curly hair (which has a tendency to frizz) , and his features are more fleshy than chiseled. HOWEVER! I would still fall to my knees in front of him and here are the top 10 reasons why:

1. When Mr. Darcy looks at Elizabeth, he wears an expression that's a combination of intense, heartsick love, bodice-ripping lust, and respectful worship. Also, he does that thing that I love where he steals glances at her when she her attention is elsewhere but holds her gaze for a second when she catches him staring before his pride (see title) causes him to break the glance (reminds me of a line from the first episode of My So-Called Life my friend Karen and I watched before draw-ling class last night where Angela says she'd like someone to say to her, You are so beautiful that it hurts to look at you).

2. That said, it's not that a person wants to be worshipped and loved to death--you don't want to be with someone you could bend around like a rubber doll. He LOVES her, but he's also elusive and awkward and has trouble expressing himself. However, when he finally manages to speak up, he tells her exactly what he thinks, even though he fears that she'll reject him. When she does reject him and basically tell him he's a dick (in Austen language, something like, "I am afraid that your behavior to date has left me with nothing more than feelings of grave displeasure which shall never allow me to return your feelings in kind so long as we are to be acquaintances. You dick"), he accepts it and doesn't insult her or continue to argue.

3. He can ride a horse like nobody's business and manages to look only slightly ridiculous in a top hat.

4. He acts. He strides about with purpose in silly looking white pants, doesn't whine, performs heroic acts without expecting thanks, and stands up to those who insult the people he loves.

5. He is self-reflective and capable of change.

6. He broods. I know that shouldn't be a good quality and wouldn't be attractive in real life, but you must love a man who is so tortured by his love for you that he (1). practices dueling until his wispy forelocks are pinned to his head with sweat (whispering to himself, "I will beat this thing!"); (2). dives into a mossy pond fully clothed (and emerges with his white shirt stuck to his body. Thank you, God, for that). (3). stays up all night writing Elizabeth a letter with a feathered pen that keeps running out of ink, goddamnit. All of which are fairly positive acts. Like, it wouldn't be quite as attractive if he brooded by drinking tons of brandy and sleeping with prostitutes. Even his brooding is refined.

7. His breeches suggest that he is well-hung and if you were to go by Shawn's theory of measuring a man's level of confidence by the size of his penis, you would have to agree that Mr. Darcy will not be a disappointment.

8. He loves dogs or at least loves women who love dogs, as is evidenced by the look of affection her throws Elizabeth's way as she's wrestling in the front yard with a Great Dane or whatever.

9. He admires Elizabeth for the best qualities in herself; that she's independent, playful, witty, not easily intimidated, and not for her weaknesses i.e. he is a feminist.

10. He has dimples. They are subtle and partially hidden by his sideburns but they exist. I am a sucker for dimples.

I mean, just look:

Monday, October 3, 2005

These are the People in My Neighborhood

The day we moved into our new apartment, I met the old lady next door, Virginia. She came outside in her mumu/house dress with the knee high nylons rolled down over her ankles, bedroom slippers and the most unbelievable wig/dead animal planted on top of her head. She called me over and asked my name. I told her. She said, "What? What? I can't hear you!" This went on about five more times. "Annie? Janie? Susan?" I experienced a phenomenon I haven't encountered since about 7th grade--this great desire to burst out laughing at an inappropriate moment (like when you're being yelled at by your chemistry teacher whose fly is undone or when your friend farts during the Lord's Prayer at Church). She didn't seem to notice. She said, "I'm 84, can you believe it? I live with my son. He's 60. He's never been married. Don't tell him I told you that. I'm 86! Fooled you."

Soon after, I noticed that the sidewalk in front of our apartment is host to an inordinate amount those skittish cooing bowling pins known as city pigeons. Virginia likes to toss bread crumbs out to them and watch them peck at the ground. Alternately, she hates having them nearby and chases them off with a broom.

Once when Shawn and I were passing by, she said, "I can't find my cat!" We both stopped. Shawn said, "Oh, he'll come back when he gets hungry." She said, "He just ran away. He's a black cat." The wig on her head is so incredible, I can't accurately describe it. Gray and ratted--it occurs to me now that maybe it's not a wig. It could be her real hair that she hasn't washed or combed in a decade. I said, "What's your cat's name?" She paused for a minute. "Oh, ain't that a shame, I can't remember it. " I said, "We'll check the alleyways for him." She leaned over and kissed me on the cheeks saying, "Oh, you are a sweetheart!" I again almost had a seizure from trying not to laugh. I saw her son a little while later and asked him if the cat had come back. He said, "The cat? The cat is fine. She forgets that he goes down to the basement sometimes." Not long after that, I was sitting in the office and I heard her voice down below; she has this scratchy old lady voice with a slight whistling sound because she's missing several teeth. I couldn't understand what she said, but the guy passing by goes, "Oh, he'll come back when he's hungry!"

I swear to God her hair looks like this

She is also often pleasantly surprised when she sees me unlocking our apartment. She will say "Oh, you live here? You'll love this neighborhood! Just love it!"

Other neighbors: the slinky Siamese cat across the street who hangs out on his front porch on warm days. He will jump on your shoulders if you're not careful, but is otherwise very friendly and cross-eyed.

And then I saw another old lady both days this weekend, also feeding pigeons from her front step. Yesterday, she was sitting in her doorstep in her mumu with her legs askew, reading an old receipt. You could see her underwear.

And thank you, to the couple on Carmac/8th St. who allowed Shawn and I a free live sex show last night. The girl was wearing a bright red sports bra type thing and I thought at first she was just really, really working hard on a treadmill; like, leaning super far forward, but then she straightened up and this guy's head popped up and he got behind her and appeared to be rearranging her. He also wore his shirt. We were standing on the other side of the street, looking up at their third story window, so we didn't actually see any nudity but we did see him get behind her and thrust rapidly again and again about 15 times; didn't look that sexy and didn't last that long. He collapsed on top of her, though all you could see were her legs wrapped around his back. I suggested to Shawn that we applaud. Neither one of us experienced a single tinge of guilt at being that voyeuristic. We didn't clap. I wouldn't want to encourage the guy's poor performance.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Everything Should Be Easy Always

It has come to my ever shrinking attention that I have the patience of a gnat. I blame everyone else for this inability to wait longer than four seconds for any single thing that I want. This quality has recently been highlighted by trying to log onto this site from my home computer which has recently become infected with pop-up boxes due in part to Shawn's downloading "hot live xxx teen Asian girl-on-girl lovefest cum action" videos and gaming tips for Grand Theft auto. And also because I should have some Adaware protection on here which I didn't. It used to be that I'd be happy to have any Internet connection at all and now if I find myself waiting for the screen to download I want to get up and wash my face or do something else rather than wait the 15 seconds it'll take to appear. Same goes for other areas in my life. The coffee person doesn't jump up to take my order and I'm irritated. The car ahead of me on 3rd street has decided to parallel park and I clench my teeth.

I need to become Buddhist, or maybe start mediating though I've tried that before and I have a hard time keeping still; thinking the entire time that I should be doing something else like cleaning the cat litter box.

I don't have time for this even.

Friday, September 30, 2005

"Eat at Meze's: Only Slightly Gross"

My friend from writing class, Karin (not to be confused with my drawing class friend, Karen), volunteered to write a food review for Philly Style magazine or someone and so invited me along for a free meal last night. The overall dining experience at Meze's was good and I don't want to sound like I'm not recommending it because I am fully recommending it, with the following suggestions:

1. Hold on tight to your silverware and keep an elbow on your plate at all times. Since this is a newer restaurant, the waitstaff has over-service-itis; you know, filling up your water glass after every sip, whisking your plate away at the slightest provocation (if you happen to momentarily lean back in your chair, for instance), having three different people ask you how everything is at four minute intervals, etc.

2. Don't order fish. Actually, that's just a note to myself. If you like fresh fish, order it. If you enjoy choking on tiny little white bendy bones, have the sea bass. We were told we could have it prepared at the table (with head) or fileted downstairs (without head but with fan-tail). We opted for headless. It did come without a head, though the fish platter also contained two eight-inch long sardines whose only disfigurement was the slice down the center of the belly that you were supposed to cut into and eat (I guess. I don't really know what you do with sardines). The heads with the little dead eyes were there and the tails and possibly even the scales. I don't like to eat anything with a face on it and I also don't like to eat anything that looks like it died violently just seconds before.

3. Don't exit the building when you hear a fire alarm; it's actually the ring of the phone at the hostess' stand.

4. If you want the manager to stop by your table, talk about strip clubs. Karin was describing a local male strip club where the women go wild and the manager stopped in his tracks and came over to our table, saying, "Oh, excuse, I overheard you say strip club," and then he told us about how he and his fiance have an ongoing argument about how much more subdued men are at strip clubs than women. I said something academic-like about the male gaze and double standards and he said, "Enjoy your pita! It's fresh from Greece!" and left. Veiled sexual innuendo? If so, compliment or not a compliment?

5. For dessert, you will be offered 5 strange things and 4 of them will have nuts in them. Order the thing without the nuts. It's doughy and has some strange fruit glaze on top (pineapple? apricot?) but no bones.

There now, see I've done all of Karin's work for her, thereby earning my meal.